I’ve spent the past two days watching rented DVDs. I have plenty of other stuff that i intended to post yesterday and this morning, but i have to return these damned movies before noon. Just some incoherent, half-formed thoughts on the movies for now…
Traffic! Aside from Benicio Del Toro, I don’t know what the big deal was. Okay, that’s backlash talking again. It was not truly about Drugs, as much as just cocaine, touching only lightly upon heroin, marijuana, & alcohol, & seemingly neglecting pills and psychedelics altogether. From what i’d read, Traffic was the all-encompassing question on the War on Drugs. Aside from the limited palette of pharmaceticals, there was no true exploration upon the effects of this “war” on the average American citizen (who the target audience seemed to be, since we are all fascinated by rich people) unless one happens to be a firmly entrenched member of the ruling class or a completely amoral member of the noveau rich…. or a cop! Or a drug dealer!
Only the story arc that took place in Mexicio had any impact on me. It probably is unrealistic to hope that a normal person could work in such a diseased system and keep one’s eye firmly upon the path of ethical behavior, without much compromise. It kept surprising me that Javier who seemed so burdened and focused was played by the same guy who was in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a ravenous lunatic. I gave a damn about him, and still would have cared about him if he sold out and did not get the happy ending with the baseball park for the kids. However, i was bored to death with the trials of Zeta-Jones’s character. Do i really need to see what motivates her actions… or do i need to see what motivates that dealer that stood behind the door and sold coke to the character Caroline & Seth? Never mind even what i want or need… what would have been the stronger story? All we get of his possible perspective is a tossed off speech by Topher Grace (who was convincingly self-absorbed and self-righteous in my eyes) to Mr. Concerned Parent who just happens to be the Drug Czar. How preposterous is this?
As nasty as it seemed, i just could not get myself to empathize with Christensen’s Caroline. It doesn’t even seem that it was her fault. As soon as she’s introduced, she’s merely a blank slate of a prep school teen, to sink into debauched addiction, with no glimpse of the spark of the person that she had truly been before. the only chords it struck was familiarity with real girls that i’ve known and seen destroyed. (Now i really need to see Requiem for a Dream.) She and Seth are the only real addicts in the buch. What about all of the working class people who take up the drug, not so much for recreation, but to keep their bodies and their minds numb for the two jobs that they have to hold to keep their family from sinking further into poverty? Yeah, i’ve seen the fucked-up students sitting up all night talking shit about society and reality, but what about the truck drivers who are forced to drive 48 hours straight?
And back to the drug dealer’s wife story arc… why didn’t those two cops have lives? Aw, poor pretty Zeta-Jones. She has a little boy and is six months pregnant. If she can only figure out what her husband’s business is, then maybe she can save them! What motivated those cops? who did they go home to? She is quite responsible for killing someone’s father or lover or brother, just so that she can keep sitting at the country club chatting about what kind of wine she likes. It’s just another Hollywood movie, more sanctimonious crap with a few gems of performance and camera work. I got more out of Charlie’s Angels, which is nothing more than it set out to be, lowest common denominator silliness.
Yeah, Charlie’s Angels made me laugh. shrug. It seemed funnier than the Austin Powers movies, probably because i get bored by the campy ’60s references as the ’70s seem even campier to me, and a lot of the AP sex humor just falls flat for me. I will probably never watch CA again, as it’s totally disposable, but perhaps with the mix of movies i’ve watched the past two days, it was essential as a palate cleanser. Possibly another reason why i liked it was because of the comments on the IMDB on why it was so awful. It’s everything that Traffic wanted to be, but couldn’t because it was intended to be Art. It definitely needed more Bill Murray though, and more of Crispin Glover. Traffic would have been a lot better if Crispin Glover played Michael Douglas’ character in Traffic. In fact, Traffic would have been spectacular if Glover played Zeta-Jones’ character, and stellar if Bill Murray was included as the Drug Czar (what a stupid damned title.)
Almost Famous was… i dunno… with the music that it featured, and some of the dialogue that i managed to hear beforehand, i was set upon hating it. ’70s boogie rock, and that whole Allman Bros/Lynyrd Skynyrd/ect. makes me uncomfortable, and to hell with Humble Pie and Frampton. However, i was seduced in the first fifteen minutes of the film. The way that the Miller household was laid out was most familiar to me. Although i had both parents and a younger brother as opposed to a rebellious older sister, the whole philosophy of being developing one’s beliefs outside of mainstream America was most familiar (which probably explains my obsession with pop culture now, as i don’t take it for granted.) While my experiences are far, far different from William Miller, he became instantly sympathetic, and that’s in part because there was no Patrick Fugit, only William Miller. I don’t know whether this is because he’s just starting out or whether he’s that quality of actor. (yeah, i’ve read a lot of people said his acting was awful, but….) It didn’t matter. i was hooked by his innocent enthusiasm, and while i cringed after Lester Bangs faded into the background, as there would be no more Stooges, William’s earnestness was more important than the music.
I don’t know what to make of Kate Hudson. Can she act? Someone else can answer that, but she seemed to have exactly the luminous quality that her character was supposed to have. Most of the time i even doubt whether i know enough about females even to make that judgement. Billy Crudup looked creepily by a guy i know, David Day. It was eerie, as i kept shaking my head at the uncanny resemblance. As much as a jerk that his character was… ah, fuck it. i cannot explain it. (I need to see Jesus’ Son now, but that acid scene… silly.) In fact, i should not be writing anything at all. I can explain what i hated about Traffic, and actually truncated the bile i wanted to spew about it as it was just making me bitter, but i cannot quite explain what i liked about Almost Famous. The dialogue was lame. The plot was predictable for the most part, although most coming-of-age stories are going to have the same elements, and of course it’s going to have a damned Happy Ending. Of course it would… it was warm & fuzzy all of the way through, while a movie like Traffic pretends to be brutal and unflinching, yet puts practically pants a rainbow over all of North America saying, one day it will all be all right. Almost Famous is nothing more than it says it is. Boy follows dreams. Boy gets lost. Boy finds voice. Boy finds that people are mostly good, and Truth Saves. Hell, i listen to John Denver records sometimes. Almost Famous worked for me, but i probably should have watched it again, as my opinion feels premature.
What do i care? it’s my damned website, and i contradict everything i write at most within two weeks.